Before we Floridians really knew what was happening with the virus, Al and I took our final beach walk in late February. We saw this shark, washed ashore, maybe slashed by a boat motor. I like to walk just in the water where the tide rolls in and out, so this stopped me in my tracks.
I scuttled to dry sand a few feet from the Gulf of Mexico’s foam. My photographer (Al) snapped this photo. He wanted to take it from the other side, which was even more disturbing, like maybe birds had picked the guts clean but left the bones. There was no sign of a head.
We had gone to Madeira Beach that day, and we both decided next time, we’d stick with our cute Treasure Island beach just a bit south, at John’s Pass. Not to be confused with Sunset Beach, also on the shores of Treasure Island, where we like to go for dinner and catch the sunset. This is just a little bit of beach with no hotels or condos behind it. It’s cleaner and there are less people.
Although to be fair to Madeira, that’s the first shark I’ve ever seen washed upon any shore.
Where we live in Pinellas County, there are 35 miles of white sand beaches. Mostly they’re all lovely. I’m not saying one town’s beach is superior to another, because it’s not true. But there are specific areas of beach along those miles we like better than others. Especially during tourist season.
We didn’t go to the beach after that day we saw the half-shark. Al tried to talk me into it, but little bits of news had started to seep out about the virus in the USA and I was spooked. It was like the shark body part had been a harbinger of things to come.
Soon after, we saw one of our northern beaches portrayed as a decadent Spring Break haven full of partying young people. That’s not unusual, except the information on the virus was now more in the news and we’d learned the term “social distancing.” Soon Pinellas County closed its beaches. All of them.
Despite some beaches recently reopening (in Jacksonville and Miami), in Pinellas County, where we live, they’re still closed. And we’re still staying home.